Cucumbers are staple side dishes in a ton of Asian cuisine. There’s just something about the refreshing bite of a cucumber that gives your taste buds a feeling of, “I’m eating healthy today mofuckaaaa!” And it’s quite possibly one of the most versatile ingredients on the planet. I’d go so far as to say that I’d judge the authenticity of an Asian restaurant based on how good they prepare their cucumbers and that’s some real shit right there.
This dish is inspired by my visit to Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong and if you haven’t been to a Din Tai Fung yet, make sure to hit one up because they have a cucumber appetizer, served cold, that is just simple and well executed. In Hong Kong, there were countless amount of times, their cucumber dish gave me a sense of safety and that I wasn’t going to starve to death. I ended up finding tons of other things to eat in Hong Kong as my trip progressed, but still, this was a dish I knew I could order and love, every time.
I’m using Persian cucumbers in this dish, because they hold a little less moisture than regular cucumbers and seem to stay crisper with minimal effort. I love the look of cucumbers that are peeled in stripes too, but i suppose that’s really just aesthetics. The ingredients are super simple, as you’ll just need a quick marinade, garlic, and cucumbers! Easy right? Slice up the garlic real fine. I only used 1 clove of garlic here but if you like more pungent flavors you can use two. You’ll find that other preparation styles of this dish will include smashing the cucumbers, but what we’re going to do instead, is drop them in a glass container and shake the shit out of them making sure all the marinade gets into the cucumbers. We’ll keep the marinade super simple and use a combination of Agave, Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil and Tamari. There’s just something about the nuttiness of sesame oil with the saltiness of soy sauce that goes so well together and when it’s primary function is to coat some refreshing pieces of cucumber, there’s no stopping you from eating the whole batch. We’ll make sure to whisk everything up to emulsify and then pour everything over each cucumber.Give everything a hard shake for about 15 seconds and just pop into the fridge for about an hour.
The great thing is, these cucumbers can last a couple of days in the fridge if you end up not finishing them all on the first crack at ’em. Highly doubt you’ll have much to save, but nonetheless, it’s a great appetizer to have when you’re inviting friends over for some Asian stir-fry.
- 5 Persian cucumbers
- 1 tsp agave
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tsp tamari
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Prepare cucumbers by rinsing and peeling skin to show columns. Dice into half inch sized pieces. Place into glass container.
- Finely mince garlic clove and add to cucumbers.
- For marinade combine agave, rice vinegar, sesame oil, tamari, extra virgin olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes together in bowl. Whisk until emulsified.
- Pour marinade over cucumbers and cover with airtight lid. Give a strong shake for 15-20 seconds making sure pieces of cucumber are all evenly coated.
- Serve cold with some lemon zest, toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of hot chili oil.
For the chili oil, you can use S&B La-Yu chili oil, found in most Asian grocery stores or online.
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